Either it's that whole tortured-artist thing, or Barrett Johnson is a great pretender at having his heart broken. But unlike other folk musicians who take the dusty road toward twangy alt-country, Johnson ventures out on a different route, bringing elements of both tenderness and grace to his album In Case I Went Missing. An Orange native, this singer/songwriter writes with an aural clarity and sweetness often missing in today's brash, pretentious (and brashly pretentious) "I'm more sensitive than you" market. Never rising above midtempo, every track here is a beautifully wrapped, heartfelt ode to the crestfallen. "Portraits" introduces a cello, viola, violin and harmonica to the mix of guitars/bass/drums instrument standards, sculpting it into a fluid, orchestral gem. "South of Where You Want to Be" is a one-man masterpiece that shows off Johnson's finger-picking skills and talent for turning heartwrenching melancholy into charming lullabies, while "Pictures and Postcards" does nothing to hide the absolute devastation caused by a lost, forgotten romance. "October" rounds things out, a simple acoustic-guitar/cello piece that's a final showcase for Johnson's honeyed voice and teardrop-falling lyrics.
For more information, click up www.myspace.com/barrettjohnson.
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